my DIY CNC milling machine

precision light duty 3 axis vertical milling machine

Similar projects worth following
Before this project I had built many small machines. These industrial gadgets were cool to look at, and useful too. The designs were good, but not always perfect. Eventually I learned an important lesson. The lesson learned was: 90% perfect is not good enough. So much effort is required to fabricate these parts. If the design is not perfected ahead of time, I end up with an expensive piece of "folk art". (rather than a quality piece of equipment)

The goal on this mill was to build myself a tool, as a tradesman. A serious tool built to last.

Some of the parts used in this project, I had collected in my early teens (~2005). I began designing in 2013. I began building in 2014. Three years later it is mostly finished, and in use.

The CNC controls are based around BeagleBone Black. I designed a CNC cape called OPTOCAPE. The design is documented and open source. You can buy an Optocape from my store on Tindie.

Optocape interfaces to most of the BeagleBone pins through Opto-isolated buffers. This allows the CPU, and machine signals to opperate from seperate power supplies.

Optocape also includes a built in LCD serializer. It is compatible with almost any laptop LCD flat panel. My machine uses a 14.1" sharp LQ141.

4-wire resistive touch is also supported. So Optocape is a good solution for any mid-sized machine requiring a touch screen.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 196.75 kB - 02/14/2017 at 06:25


  • 4 × DGSSV2R5 StepperStack R5 stepper motor controllers
  • 1 × OptoCape V0.1 4 axis buffer card for StepperStack R5
  • 1 × BeagleBone Black SBC

  • Craftwork

    Dean Gouramanis09/23/2017 at 06:02 0 comments

  • Build complete

    Dean Gouramanis08/03/2017 at 04:45 1 comment

    It's pretty much done. I still need to install limit switches, and angular indexers in order to be able to home the machine. For now I can use it as-is. I have a feeling this machine will be a life long work-in-progress.

  • Control Unit finished

    Dean Gouramanis08/03/2017 at 04:42 0 comments

  • Custom analog panel meters

    Dean Gouramanis08/03/2017 at 04:40 0 comments

    Bezels made by machine, for machine. Here are the copper bezels for the custom panel meters. These analog panel meters show Axis and Spindle current in real time.

  • Wiring the controller

    Dean Gouramanis02/14/2017 at 07:04 0 comments

    The miniature milling machine will have a miniature electrical system. The power supplies, stepper drivers, NC controller, spindle driver, touchscreen and switches are all crammed into a 12" X 12" X 7" box.

  • New open source hardware

    Dean Gouramanis12/13/2016 at 22:42 0 comments

    The Opto buffer cape I hacked together last year worked fine, but it did'nt have enough I/O. So I designed a propper cape for BeagleBone black. It is called OptoCape.

    My CNC controller is based on #BeagleBone Black running LunuxCNC #Machinekit. The cape has 15 optically isolated outputs, 10 isolated inputs, optically isolated serial port (UART4) , and four solid state relays on-board.

    I also decided to merge a previous project of mine into the layout. So the OptoCape also contains a 12 bit color LVDS video output. This section is CMOS, and powered by the VDD SYS of BeagleBone (so not isolated...).

    The optically isolated outputs enable me to drive the stepper drivers, limit switches and other machine parts using seperate power supplies. My spindle uses a 24 VDC supply, and the steppers are using 28VDC power supply.

    I put OptoCape up for sale on Tindie, and already sold the first one. It's a good general-purpose cape.

  • Clean and relocate

    Dean Gouramanis07/03/2016 at 15:06 0 comments

    I cleaned and polished the cast iron base last week. It was very laborious, but very rewarding. This machine looks beautiful in my room. Now I have a clean dry place to work on the electronics.

  • Buffer Cape tested

    Dean Gouramanis06/15/2015 at 19:33 0 comments

    The buffer cape is wired, and tested. This cape will transfer signals between the BeagleBone, and the Stepper Drivers without sharing the same power supply. Any power surges or sparks will not reach the delicate circuitry.

  • Assembled the Stack Plaque!

    Dean Gouramanis01/22/2015 at 04:03 0 comments

    Shes a beauty!

View all 9 project logs

Enjoy this project?



georgefomitchef wrote 04/30/2016 at 20:04 point

Hello Dean!

We made some video tutorials: "how to make your own diy laser engraving / cutting machine".

Will be so great to know your opinion!Realy!

You can skype me :george.fomitchev  or  email me:

Than you!

Video 1 : How to assemble MakeBlock XY plotter

Video 2: How to assemble DIY engraver

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dean Gouramanis wrote 04/30/2016 at 20:49 point

Nice music.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates